Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

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This gluten-free carrot cake is a rustic naked cake, made with three layers of perfectly spiced carrot cake, and slathered with a luscious cream cheese frosting!

Gluten-free carrot cake on a cake stand.

Your search for the best gluten-free carrot cake stops here. This triple layer carrot cake is unbelievably moist, and filled with your favorite spiced flavors along with a good portion of healthy carrots. Is the cake itself healthy? Well, that might be a bit of a stretch. But I did go light on the ultra creamy cream cheese frosting.

With how scrumptious this cake is, no one will even notice it’s gluten-free. I love to serve it up for the best Easter dessert (it always gets rave reviews), but don’t be shy enjoying it year round. It’s perfect for parties and get togethers as well!

Carrots on a table for carrot cake.

What’s In This Carrot Cake

While this may look like a long list of ingredients, please don’t be intimidated. It’s super easy to make, and the results are worth it. Here’s what you’ll need: 

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Ingredients

  • Almond Flour: I always use blanched almond flour for the finest texture.
  • Tapioca Flour: A little bit of tapioca flour helps to create that lighter, fluffier texture.
  • Coconut Sugar: The slight caramel undertones of coconut sugar are ah-mazing in this cake. 
  • Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger are the ultimate carrot cake spice mix.
  • Baking Soda: A little bit of baking soda gives lift to the cake.
  • Cream of Tartar: This is the “acid” that activates the baking soda. You could always swap these two items with baking powder if you prefer.
  • Eggs: Grab a few large eggs and you’re good to go.
  • Butter: I’m using butter, but you can use ghee or coconut oil as well, if you’d like to keep it dairy-free.
  • Applesauce: A secret ingredient that helps keep this carrot cake super moist.
  • Vanilla Extract: Adds a smidge of sweetness to the overall base. 
  • Shredded Carrots: The star ingredients – loads of carrots! And I’ve got some tips below for how to grate them fast and easy.
  • Pecans: A sprinkle of chopped pecans on top adds a contrasting nutty crunch. 

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • Cream Cheese: It’s thick texture and tangy flavor makes it perfect for a lavish frosting. It’s my fave!
  • Butter: You can also use ghee as well. 
  • Powdered Sugar: I’m using organic powdered sugar to help create that classic sweet, and fluffy cream cheese frosting.
  • Vanilla Extract: For a little touch of sweetness.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Shredding carrots for carrot cake.

Ways to Shred Carrots

While I’m using my KitchenAid shredding attachment to grate the carrots quickly, there’s two other ways to shred carrots. 

  • Grater: Peel the carrots and use either a box or plane grater to grate the carrots. This method is a little more labor intensive, but it works just fine.
  • Food Processor: Peel and cut the carrots into 3″ long pieces. Attach the shredding blade to your food processor and shred away. This is a super quick and easy method.
The process of making the carrot cake.

Let’s Make the Best Carrot Cake Recipe

To get started, preheat your oven to 325F, grease your pans, and line them with parchment paper. Then follow along below. 

  • Mix the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk them all together. 
  • Mix the wet ingredients. In a separate large bowl, mix everything together with a whisk or hand mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. 
  • Blend it all together. Add the dry mixture into the wet and blend for one more minute until combined. Then fold in the carrots and pecans. 
  • Pour the batter into the pans. Note that the pans will only be ¼ full, and use a spatula to smooth out the top. 
  • Bake and cool. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the cake halfway through. Then pull out the cake, let it cool for 15 minutes, and remove it onto a cooling rack. 
  • Make the frosting and slather it on. Mix the frosting ingredients in a large bowl with a stand mixer or hand mixer on medium speed. Then divide the frosting between the cake layers. 
Triple layer gluten-free carrot cake on a cake stand.

Carrot Cake Tips & Substitutions

  • If you don’t do dairy. Good news, the cake itself can be made dairy-free. And I promise you this gluten-free carrot cake is abundantly delicious all on it’s own. So feel free to skip the frosting. Or, you could make a dairy-free buttercream, similar to the one I used on my Coconut Amaretto Crepe Cake (minus the amaretto and shredded coconut).
  • Feel free to modify this cake with classic mix-ins such as raisins, shredded coconut, or even pineapple!
  • If you don’t have three 8-inch pans you can also do this recipe in two 9-inch pans. Just adjust the cook time accordingly.
  • If you want to make this cake in advance wrap the cooled, and unfrosted layers completely in plastic wrap. Then store in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for a couple of weeks. Just add frosting to the thawed layers before serving!
  • If you want to store a frosted cake in advance you can do that too. Just be aware that since the sides have very little frosting, it may dry out more than a fully frosted cake. But you can store the cake completely frosted at room temperature or in the fridge for 2-3 days, and in the freezer for up to a month. Just place the cake in the freezer for an hour to let the frosting harden, then cover completely with plastic wrap.

How to Store Carrot Cake Leftovers

You can use the same methods mentioned above if you’ve got a large portion of leftovers. If you just have a slice or two, simply place them in an airtight container in either the fridge or freezer for up to a week.

A slice of carrot cake on a plate.

More Cake Recipes to Indulge In

Whether it’s for a special occasion or a treat yourself kind of day, these cake recipes are always a hit.

If you make this carrot cake, let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Gluten-free carrot cake on a cake stand with frosting.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

4.95 from 67 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

This gluten-free carrot cake is a rustic naked cake, made with three layers of perfectly spiced carrot cake, and slathered with a luscious cream cheese frosting!

Ingredients 
 

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, or more as needed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 325F. Grease three 8-inch pans and line the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper. 
  • In a medium bowl, add all of the dry ingredients and whisk together. In a separate large bowl, add the eggs, butter, applesauce and vanilla extract. With a whisk or hand mixer on medium speed, blend together for 30 seconds. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend for another minute, or until well combined. Fold in the shredded carrots and chopped pecans. 
    Carrot cake ingredients being mixed in a bowl.
  • Evenly divide the cake batter between the three 8-inch pans. They'll only be about 1/4 full, and that's okay. Use a spatula to flatten them on top. Cook the cakes for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once done, let the cakes cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Then remove them from the pan and continue cooling on a cooling rack. 
  • While the cakes are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. Combine all frosting ingredients together and blend in a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed.
    Adding cream cheese frosting to carrot cake.
  • Divide the frosting between the layers and add a thin layer of frosting to the outside edge. Use a spatula to then scrape that off like a crumb coat. Top with a sprinkle of chopped pecans. 

Lisa’s Tips

  • One quick note about the three pans. It will seem like the pans barely have any batter and that’s okay. Once you divide the carrot cake batter between three pans they’ll only be about 1/4 full, but your cake will rise. It will also cook faster and bonus, my layers cooked and stayed 100% flat, so there was no need to trim a dome. You could also do this recipe in two 9-inch pans. Just adjust the cook time accordingly.

Nutrition

Calories: 630kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 537mg | Potassium: 329mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 43g | Vitamin A: 6070IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 1.7mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Carrot Cake, Easter Dessert, Gluten Free Carrot Cake, Paleo Carrot Cake
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally published April 2017, but updated to include new photos.

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




213 Comments

  1. This cake deserves at least 10 stars!!! Super moist and delicious. I served this when company came for dinner and it earned rave reviews. Your recipes never disappoint – thank you, Lisa.5 stars

  2. Incredible, super moist BEST carrot 🥕 cake recipe I have tasted.  My cakes were perfect.  Did not last.  All enjoyed.  Thanks so much for sharing.  Will be made every Easter and yearly celebrations in our family.  5 stars

  3. Am making this cake for tomorrow
    Eastern Sunday with the glase honey ham
    Hopping that they come out right

    Happy Easter to you all5 stars

  4. I have made this 🥕 cake several times. It is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. I’m not a gluten free person but when I saw this recipe, I had to try it.
    I will always go to this recipe when I need a delicious and super moist carrot cake in my life ♡♡♡5 stars

  5. I made this cake a couple years ago during a girls getogether, it was an excellent recipe ! everything worked in harmony and not only was it a treat, it was a healthy one, i loved every. Single. Bite!5 stars

  6. I’m not sure if I did something wrong, but I just tried to make this in two 9″ cake pans. The cakes have been baking for 35 minutes. They aren’t done yet, but they have risen all the way to the top of the pans. They were half full when I put them in. I will be interested to see how they come out. I hope I didn’t screw up the recipe.

  7. Really my favorite gf dessert. Wow this is spectacular . I did cupcakes. Froze some. I added raisins. Would add coconut next time also. Tysm for this amazing recipe. 5 stars

  8. this carrot cake is the bomb , I had to cook mine 15 min longer used 3 pans, shows how oven temperatures vary. I used brown monk fruit instead of coconut sugar, for the frosting I used 16 0z cream cheese ( I have done this with trader joes vegan cream cheese also and can’t even tell its not the real thing) used 1 cup of lakanto powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and no butter. dont hesitate to try this I like it better than the gluten ones.5 stars

  9. I had to entertain twice today so decided to make this cake! What a hit amongst everyone!! You made me look like a serious pro in the kitchen. Everyone raved about the cake and I’ll definitely be making this again very soon. Thanks for another perfect recipe! 

  10. Can I make this cake with NO  eggs, perhaps using Flax Eggs?  I have someone in the family who is allergic to eggs. 
    Thanks

  11. Your recipes are staples at our house! Planning to make this for my daughter’s 1st birthday… I’m wondering if it’s possible to modify it to exclude the pecans though? Would that significantly alter the cake texture?

    1. It’s nice to to have that crunchy texture like a normal carrot cake does. But you can exclude it if you’d like.

  12. Made this for Easter and it was a hit. No one even knew it was gluten free and it was so delicious. I was asked to make it every year for Easter! Thanks for the great recipe.5 stars

  13. I made this for Easter and I had to share my sad/funny story. I made the cake on Saturday, iced it, and added the chopped pecans on top. It was beautiful! I felt like my icing was super runny (it’s pretty warm here in SC already) so I thought I’d pop it in the fridge overnight. Well, my cake stand is heavy glass and when I went to put it on the shelf in the garage fridge, the glass finial on the top caught the shelf above and yes, it tilted forward and took the top layers with it🤦‍♀️! What a mess all over the bottom of the fridge and garage floor. I have never done that and I could have cried😭, but said a few swear words instead🤬. We had just the bottom layer today and it was soooo delicious😋! I will definitely make this again but turn on the air conditioning next time! It was so moist, and the flavors were just right. The accident probably actually saved my waistline. 😀5 stars

  14. I just made this and used the coconut oil. I also used coconut oil to grease the pan lightly. The cake didn’t rise in the middle much at all, and it was oily. It didn’t come out of the pan without breaking. Not sure if i should have left it in the oven longer but it was cooked. I’m sure it’ll still taste good, it was just a mess to frost. I’ll try again in the future!4 stars

  15. Followed recipe and made into cupcakes! Absolutely the best! Before my diagnosis of celiac I was to bring carrot cake cupcakes to Easter gatherings. So I gave these a try and great reviews from all the family. The comments were that they were better than the ones I use to make! It made 24 cupcakes and enough icing! Thank you for this recipe and all the others that I have enjoyed making and eating!5 stars

  16. amazing cake, just as good as regular. to make it sugar free I use 3/4 cup monk fruit in the cake, and 1 cup powdered monk fruit in the frosting, you would never know it wasn’t regular sugar.
    I could not find the vegan cream cheese, I have found it in the past and it makes yummy frosting.
    thanks for the great recipe.

    Happy Easter all5 stars

  17. I just made this carrot cake today and wow – absolutely delicious! Not too sweet and very moist. I used two 9-inch pans, and halved the frosting recipe. It was the perfect amount of icing for two layers. Thank you again Lisa for another great recipe. Can’t wait for your cookbook!5 stars

  18. Wow! Lisa this is the best cake ever. My very first cake that I have ever baked in my life and it turned out perfect. I am still shocked by it’s success. I made it for my son’s birthday on the 5th January this 2022 and we were all thrilled. My husband has 3 slices at once and the children 2 slices each. I am so proud of myself. Thank you so much for the confidence that you have given me. I have been relying so much on bought GF-products since the Dr put me on protocol diet from early 2020 because it was a challenging transition for me, but now I feel even more in charge of my kitchen and nutrition and it’s contributing so positively to my health. I so wish you were providing health coaching to individuals, because you’re superb and passionate at what you do. 5 stars

    1. The transition can always be challenging in the beginning, but once you learn how to utilize wholesome ingredients and certain cooking methods, it becomes much easier! But, happy to hear you’re becoming confident again in the kitchen, and that you and your family enjoyed this carrot cake for your son’s birthday :)

  19. I get confussed whenever I see Tapioca flour or Cassava flour. Did you use the starch or the flour? The consistency will change if I use either one of them.

    1. Hi Ashley – I haven’t tried baking these as cupcakes yet, but I think you can bake them for the same amount of time. Just make sure to do the toothpick test to see if the middle is cooked. If you do try it, please let me know how it turns out!

  20. I made this delicious cake yesterday. Instead of the frosting with cream cheese I used the chocolate ganache from living healthy with chocolate. It’s a win win. Thanks Lisa for this wonderful recipe.5 stars

    1. So glad you enjoyed this carrot cake Marli! Love the idea of mixing it with a chocolate ganache instead.

  21. hi , I have one question why did not you use coconut flour in this cake because I checked you used in chocolate paleo cake. And Can I use buttermilk or yogurt or warm milk in place of applesauce because its to get this in India.

    One more request please try to make other variety of cake also like vanilla cake, red velvet cake, cheese cakes etc.
    I am new in Baking so learning from you :)
    Waiting for your response. Thank you5 stars

    1. I use different gluten-free flours in all my recipes, depending on the texture and other ingredients in the recipe. :)

  22. As I type this, I am in my kitchen preparing to make this delicious cake again! I made it for Easter this year and I and my family LOVED it! It turned out incredibly moist and delicious – more than delicious. I highly recommend anyone who is gluten free, as I am, to make this cake. I wasn’t too sure how I would like it as I am not a huge carrot cake person, BUT THIS CARROT CAKE, y’all. Just make it and you’ll see. Note: I used real cream cheese and coconut oil. I also used palm-oil shortening in place of the butter for the icing and what a HIT!
    Thank you for this wonderful recipe!5 stars

  23. I made this cake for my birthday yesterday and brought it to work. Everyone loved it and they were really surprised that it was gluten and dairy free. It gave me a chance to promote your blog to my boss, whose wife eats vegan and gluten free. I really wanted to make a dairy free cream cheese frosting, but after looking in 8 stores for vegan cream cheese, I had to give up. Apparently vegan products are in higher demand than they can produce here in Norway. So I made the dairy free SMBC instead and everyone loved how light and less sweet it was :) Will be making this again :D5 stars

    1. Oh no! Sorry to hear it was difficult to find a vegan cream cheese. But glad this entire cake was a winner with your SMBC that you made instead :) Also, thanks so much for sharing Downshiftology!

  24. Is the nutritional info per serving or for the whole cake! Seems too high per serving but wanted to clarify. 

    1. The nutritional information will always be per serving! This cake is a bit more since there are three layers.

    1. Hi there – if you’re using 6-inch pans, it will make each layer a lot thicker. Which means you’ll need to play around with the cooking time.

  25. I never had a carrot cake with this much mix of flavors! It was amazing. Made this twice already and will do it again this coming week!

    Thank you for the awesome recipe again, Lisa!5 stars

  26. I tried this recipe for Easter and it was a hit!! Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe and I have to say…adding the pineapple is key! Delicious and a recipe I will make over and over! Yum! Xoxo5 stars

  27. Made for Easter as it’s one of my husband’s favorite deserts. It was devine! This will definitely be on my rotation!5 stars

  28. I made this for Easter and it turned out amazing! It was my 1st time making a carrot cake as well as my 1st attempt at a layer cake. Really helpful directions and notes were a bonus with this recipe. Overall flavor and texture were great. Everyone wants me to make it again!5 stars

  29. This cake was SO moist and delicious. I think we even left it in the convection oven for ten minutes longer than planned and it came out great. Thanks for this amazing recipe! 5 stars

  30. I made this cake for easter and my whole family loved it. It was easy to make and quick to put together. The amount of frosting is also perfect because it’s not over powering.5 stars

  31. Absolutely delicious!! We made this for Easter Sunday and the entire family enjoyed every single bite! No one could tell it was gluten free. Thank you!

    Wish I could share a photo 5 stars

  32. Love the recipe and turned out great even though I didn’t have all the exact ingredients!  I just halved the recipe, substituted baking powder for the baking soda/cream of tartar, and Bob mill’s gluten free flour for the tapioca flour. Also, made it in the bread maker -requires wet ingredients  at the bottom and dry ingredients at the top. 5 stars

  33. Wonderful carrot cake, so moist! I will bring it to my family for our Easter gathering. I live in Stockholm, Sweden where nobody seem to have heard of cream of tartar.. So I googled and substituted 2 tsp of baking soda with 6 tsp of baking powder, is this correct? It tasted delicious however I am still keen to know if I did it correctly, the cakes were perhaps a bit on the thin side and the correct amount of baking powder might be crucial?
    Thank you for all these wonderful recipes and inspiration for a beginner in the kitchen!
    Kind regards
    Ulrika

    1. Hi Ulrika – so happy you loved the carrot cake! Yes, you can substitute baking powder for the baking soda and cream of tartar. No prob! This cake doesn’t rise much, they are very thin layers. So sounds like you baked it perfectly!

  34. I’m so excited for this! Carrot cake is my favorite and I came to your website about a week ago hoping you would have a recipe (as your recipes are always winners), and I didn’t find one. I think I was a day too early. Low behold, here it is!!! Question though: Can I substitute crushed pineapple for the applesauce? Can’t wait!

  35. Hi, This looks soooooo good! Can I half the recipe and make cupcakes instead? If so, how would I adjust the baking time? Thanks!5 stars

    1. Hi Denise – yes, you can certainly do that! I’m not sure on the time as I haven’t yet tried that myself. But I’d just keep an eye on them after about 25 minutes or so.

  36. My son is allergic to applesauce. Could you tell me what substitution would work in lieu of the 1/2 cup applesauce in the recipe? I would LOVE to make this for Easter! Thanks!

    1. Hi Jan – you could use mashed banana as well. Or probably even a little bit more oil/butter instead of the applesauce. Hope you enjoy it!

  37. You say using 2 cake pan’s instead of 3 then adjust baking tine accordingly.   What should that be????

    1. Hi Peggy – with thicker cakes they’ll take longer to bake. I’d just keep an eye on them after 35 minutes, and test every couple of minutes with a toothpick to see if they’re done.

    2. Incredibly delicious!! My family had no clue it was gluten-free and when I told them, they didn’t believe me. An absolute hit!5 stars

      1. This one will surely fool those who aren’t gluten-free! Glad everyone loved it.

  38. Hello, this looks so good I can’t wait to make it. My question is different from the others actually…I’d like to know where you got your white cake stand holding that lovely cake? 😂 

  39. Made this yesterday as I needed to use up some carrots and it is so moist and good! I didn’t have three 8 inch cake pans so used two 9 inch pans and baked about the same time in a convection oven. It still looks pretty! I used about 2 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar for the frosting and it wasn’t too sweet. I love the chocolate cake recipe and now this one is a keeper too!

    Thanks so much!5 stars

  40. If I make cupcakes with this recipe the carrot cake how long do I how Do I keep them in the oven and at what temperature please thank you

  41. Dear Lisa
    Thank you for the wonderful and tastiest recipes you send to my inbox.
    I am always on a lookout to receive them.
    I’ve made some of your recipes and my family love them.
    I really appreciate your generosity in sharing them with us all.
    All the best
    from your Brazilian friend
    Gisa5 stars

    1. Hi Gisa – I’m so happy you’re enjoying my recipes. Thank you for taking the time to make them!